The Corner

AR to Become ‘Constitutional Carry’ State

Good news from

In July, 2013, Arkansas will become the fifth state in the United States to enact “Constitutional Carry” into law. Act 746 of the 2013 General Assembly was signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe on April 4th, 2013, after receiving only one “nay” vote from the legislature.

Constitutional Carry occurs in a state when no laws exist that generally restrict the carry of handguns (open or concealed) for self-defense purposes. Arkansas law 5-73-120 currently prohibits the possession of a handgun if it is possessed “readily available for use with a purpose to employ the handgun… as a weapon against a person”, which puts the burden of proof of legal carry upon the person carrying the handgun. Act 746 changes the prohibitive language in July . . .

Thus Arkansas joins Vermont, Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming in enjoying full “constitutional carry” rights. (Certain parts of Montana and New Mexico have such systems, too.) Effectively, “constitutional carry” means that citizens are presumed to enjoy the right to bear arms as a matter of course, rather than that right’s being contingent upon a permitting process. This is clearly preferable even to liberal permitting regimes, not just because it better abides by the logic of Anglo-American liberty but because it removes the scope for middlemen to interfere or to use the system as a means of raising money.

It is a rare thing indeed when lost rights are recovered. But gun rights really are in the midst of a tranformation. Until 2003, Vermont was the only state that retained its “constitutional carry” system. Now, there are five, and 13 other states are currently considering joining them. The progress that has been made in this area and with concealed-carry permitting over the last 20 years is nothing short of astonishing:

As a result of its changes, Arkansas will also become the 45th state to allow at least some form of Open Carry. Another map, this one from, shows the remaining holdouts:

Until such time as the whole country has adopted the regime, “constitutional carry” will continue to present a problem for some. Many states will happily accept CCW permits from other states, but if you don’t have one because you don’t need one? Well, tough. In consequence, a few states have started to allow non-residents to apply for the CCW permits. The state of Florida has become particularly popular: its CCW permit, available to non-residents, is recognized in 36 states.

Last year, Democratic Senators Mark Begich and Joe Manchin introduced a Senate bill that would have allowed ctizens with state-issued CCW permits to carry concealed handguns in any other state. The bill went nowhere, and it seems unlikely that it will pass any time soon (unless, perhaps, it is part of a bigger bill that includes federal gun restrictions). Hopefully, the states will continue restoring the Second Amendment of their own volition, rendering federal efforts to do so happily moot. (Hey, a New Yorker can dream.)

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